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May 03 2021
May 03

SIREN (Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network) at UCSF has a mission to, “Improve health and health equity by advancing high quality research on health care sector strategies to improve social conditions". This research initiative, supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a leader in the creation, curation and dissemination of research that explores the intersection between health and social determinants that often play a critical role in the health outcomes of individuals and communities. 

Chapter Three was recently brought in to help the SIREN team make improvements to their old Drupal 7 site, the most extensive technical work since the original site was built. Over the last several years, SIREN's research and publication efforts grew; they needed a refresh, both to modernize the look and feel and to streamline the user experience. Importantly, they also needed to migrate from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. We managed to achieve all of these with an approach tailored to their needs and budget.

Outcomes: A Small Sites Approach for Migration and Redesign


Most of the content on the SIREN website is relatively straightforward and didn’t require major restructuring. By taking a simplified approach that emphasized changes to several key pages and incorporating new design elements, we gave the site a more modern and updated look and feel without requiring a wholesale rethink of every page type. For smaller sites like this one, this approach can work wonders!

By focusing on the home page, resource library, (new) Coffee & Science podcast, and the News section, we were able to give SIREN a lot of value for the money. For page templates that weren't redesigned, the addition of new iconography, updates to the color scheme and other styles gave those pages a refresh without impacting the budget.

Figure: Old SIREN homepage with three separate "resource" headings
Old Homepage of SIREN at UCSF
Figure: New SIREN site with updates to imagery, featured content, and simplified navigation
New Homepage of SIREN at UCSF


User Experience

As the SIREN Network initiative grew, so did content and navigation, which had expanded out of a desire to expose more of that content directly through major navigation headings. This redesign presented an ideal opportunity to streamline the information architecture while still emphasizing access to SIREN’s priority content. We did this by providing strong design cues and prominent imagery for featured content and thereby reducing the need to have the navigation take on all the work of exposing content that might be nested as a subpage.

Figure: Old resource page with multiple "resource" navigation labels; where should users go?
Old Resource Library of SIREN at UCSF
Figure: New Resource Library provides updated visual treatment to better direct users to key content. All interaction with resources are done via the single Evidence & Resource Library heading.
New Resource Library for SIREN at UCSF


SIREN at UCSF has now migrated to Drupal 8 with a new design and UX that emphasized changes to priority content areas and streamlined navigation. The project approach is especially suited to smaller sites that are in need of a rethink; sites that have grown organically but now need a modest restructuring of content and design.

The team at Chapter Three is proud of our partnership with SIREN and their new site. Please have a look and get in touch with any questions.

Mar 10 2021
Mar 10

California's court system is the largest in the nation and serves a population of more than 39.5 million people — about 12 percent of the total U.S. population. 

Every year, thousands of Californians seek support for legal claims as self-represented litigants, or SRLs. This self-help system is managed by the Judicial Council of California, the administrative body for California’s courts; it offers legal assistance resources on a variety of topics such family law, civil proceedings and a variety of other issues. Every year, more and more Californians choose to represent themselves before the courts, a trend that the State has sought to address with new investments in technology and content.

Ensuring Equitable Legal Services in California

Government websites are often internally-focused, byzantine places that focus on how the government understands itself rather than how citizens need to interact with it. That gap between how the organization presents itself and how users approach it can seem overwhelming; now imagine the average citizen navigating the largest court system in the country. In 2017, the Futures Commission of the California Courts submitted a report to the Chief Justice that included a variety of recommendations to improve the public's access to the legal system. These recommendations included making investments in technology to ensure that self-help resources are easier to use, especially in family law and civil proceedings. Self-represented litigants, and the organizations that assist them, have often struggled with inconsistent information, forms, and services scattered throughout the California Courts system.

The Self-Represented Litigants Portal: A Service-First Strategy

The Judicial Council of California is now in the process of reinventing their SRL portal to be a service-first, approachable, and useful information hub, making often complex legal processes simpler to engage with. The long-term vision for the portal, or Self-Help Guide, is to replace duplicative and outdated information on trial court websites and make the court system much more accessible to the general public.

Figure: California SRL Portal Homepage

California Self-Help Portal Homepage


California’s new SRL Portal organizes around a set of services that has been informed by extensive user and background research on the tasks, case types, legal workflows and frustrations that have typically plagued users. The SRL Portal starts with a straightforward, friendly question: What Would You Like to Do? Users then scan a series of action-oriented responses to find the services and information they need.  

Figure: Rather than burying content in complex navigation, the action-oriented homepage provides direct paths to key services and information based on user research conducted by the JCC

California Self-Help Dropdowns from Homepage

Clicking on Small Claims takes users to a landing page where the initial content is straightforward. It notes the basics about what Small Claims is, the fees associated with filing a claim, and links to specific scenarios that help people decide what to do next (button labeled “Go to the steps”). 

Figure: Small Claims Landing Page

California Self Help Small Claims Page

Once the user navigates to the "Process" or "Steps" page, easy to understand language coupled with typical decision workflows allow users to access the legal system in a more intuitive way. 

Figure: Small Claims “Steps” page with dropdowns to allow scenario-based exploration of the phases of a case

California SRL Small Claims Process Page


JCC: Partners With Drupal and Chapter Three

Delivering services and managing content across an enterprise of sites can be difficult and time-consuming. This is especially true with decentralized systems and staffing which can lead to off-brand variations in how sites look, feel, and operate, confusing and frustrating users.

We understand these challenges. For JCC’s new SRL Portal, Chapter Three tamed this problem by focusing on structure, separating content and administration from presentation. This means site administrators and content creators can work faster and with less friction. A library of design components integrated into a Drupal-powered content platform provides a content entry experience that’s missing all the frustration of fighting with formatting and layout. Enter some content and let the system make it look great, every time, on every page.

The flexible design system provides highly refined components as building blocks for content creation, including body content, headings and containers for "steps" and other content elements. This allows for variation in structure from page to page while ensuring a high quality look and feel that’s consistent with the organization's design standards. The component library stands alone. It can be incorporated into other platforms or projects easily, bringing the same level of polish and simplicity to all of the organization’s digital assets, from microsites to intranets and web applications. For the JCC, these components help easily build informational, “step” or other pages with predictable, clean layouts governed by the pattern library’s tight integration with Drupal.

Drupal's Flexibility Powers Change in the Public Sector

The SRL Portal is one example of a growing pivot towards service-oriented content and infrastructure. For government agencies seeking to rethink and revamp how to deliver services online, the combination of Drupal, pattern libraries and a services-first content approach can make dramatic improvements in citizen engagement and resource management for the public sector. Making websites easier to administer allows your content strategy to focus on the customer and the services most important to them, whether searching for legal advice, paying a fee, submitting a building permit, or any of hundreds of other essential interactions between government and citizenry.

Finally, creating information workflows more intuitive for your customers can help reduce the amount of time staff need to spend answering phone calls or responding to in-person queries, making other public interactions more productive and satisfying for both staff and customers.

Interested in learning more about the project and approach we took? Contact us! We'd love to discuss the problems you're trying to solve and how our insights can benefit your organization.

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web